I have recently been made aware of a personal prejudice. While walking to the parking garage after work last week I came across a discarded beer bottle. Such an affront to civilized society could not be tolerated by one so urbane and genteel as myself, so of course I remedied the situation...garnering no shortage of strange looks from passersby as I carried a bottle of beer across the University of Florida campus. The things I endure for my environment.
This particular beer bottle had at one point contained Sam Adams Summer Ale...a fact which caught me quite by surprise. This was good beer. What kind of sot would enjoy such a fine product and then proceed to dump the emptied container on the ground? I wouldn't have been surprised if it had been Bud Light or Natural Ice...but the fact that someone with such excellent taste in alcoholic beverages had sullied the brand by littering! It was unthinkable.
Of course, it didn't take more than a moment or two of introspection to realize that was something of an unreasonable double standard...yet, there it was. I was unsurprised that someone who drank shitty beer would behave in a shitty fashion, while expecting better from someone who drank good beer.
I love beer, and do not hesitate to identify myself as a beer snob. I wouldn't drink Bud Light if it were free, but I will happily pay far too much money for a decent Belgian-style wheat ale or a German Hefeweizen. I am quite familiar with my local brewers and know where to find the good stuff in local specialty and liquor stores. And I will tell you all about it if you give me an opening, because I am a nerd who wants people to like the things that I like so we can gush about them together.
But I did not realize that my beer snobbery had extended beyond judging the quality of beer to judging the quality of the people enjoying the beer. It is true that most of the awesome people I know have excellent taste in beer. It is also true that many of the jackasses I have encountered in life would happily guzzle down watery piss packaged in longneck bottles. But that is how prejudice starts...we take our personal experiences and apply them universally. I am sure there are plenty of downright decent people that drink shitty beer....and, as difficult as it is to admit, people with good taste in beer can do shitty things.
My point is fairly obvious. You should judge people by their actions, not based on the things they like. But more than that, it's important to be aware of the subtle ways in which we judge others so we can avoid dismissing them unfairly or excusing their bad behavior. So while it may be difficult for me not to wince when I see you drinking Natty Light, I will do my best not to think less of you as a person for it.